EppsNet Archive: Work

We’re Dreamers Too

6 Sep 2017 /

There are lots of people who went to school, worked hard, provided for our families, raised our kids, tried to do the right things . . . no one lionizes us but we’re dreamers too . . .

A Real American


To Young Women Considering a Career in Technology

30 Aug 2017 /

You’ve probably read a lot of articles about how sexist and awful the culture is for women in technology.

I think if anything deters young women from technology careers, it’s this glut of articles saying how sexist and awful the culture is.

Young female technologist

I’ve worked in software development for 30 years. In my experience — and feel free to discount this because I’m not a woman — the culture is not tough for women. If anything, men give women the benefit of the doubt because they’d like to have more women around.

As Holden Caulfield used to say, “I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they’re only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something.”

Yes, I have seen bad things happen to women in tech, but I’ve seen bad things happen to men and I’ve had bad things happen to me. I’m also aware of bad things happening to women in other professions. We’ve all had our ups and downs.

How to explain this? Bad things happen to women because they’re women and bad things happen to men because — what? We deserve it?

You’ve probably also read a lot of articles about a “diversity chasm” in tech, usually written by women who work in tech and can’t understand why every young woman in America is not making the same career choices they themselves have made.

Women, like any group, are under-represented in some professions (like tech) and over-represented in other professions — education and health services, for example.

Is a software engineering career objectively better than being a nurse or a teacher or a therapist or any of the careers that women seem to prefer?

I’m happy to admit that I don’t know what the “right” male-female ratio is for any given profession and that I don’t know what other people should be doing with their lives.

Programming has been a pretty good career for me — I like to build things and I like to solve hard problems — but I’ve spent most of my life alone in a room or cubicle staring at a computer screen. It’s not for everyone. There are pros and cons like any other job.

I don’t have a daughter but my son never took an interest in programming and I never pushed him to do so. He graduated college with a degree in business. I have no reason to think his life will be less fulfilling because he’s not working in a technology job.

TL;DR:

  • Don’t pursue a technology career because someone else thinks you should.
  • Don’t pursue a technology career to make some point about gender roles in society.
  • Don’t be scared off by inaccurate (IMO) generalizations about anti-female culture.
  • Follow your heart.

Thus spoke The Programmer.


American Workplace: Grueling, Stressful and Surprisingly Hostile?

15 Aug 2017 /

Washington (AP) — The American workplace is grueling, stressful and surprisingly hostile.

So concludes an in-depth study of 3,066 U.S. workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the findings:

— Nearly one in five workers — a share the study calls “disturbingly high” — say they face a hostile or threatening environment at work . . .

If nearly one in five US workers finds their workplace hostile or threatening, that means more than 4 in 5 workers do not find their workplace hostile or threatening.

Assuming these two groups are not in completely separate workplaces, does this finding say something about the workplace or about the people who perceive a hostility that a large majority of their colleagues do not perceive?

Another finding:

— Telecommuting is rare: 78 percent say they are required to be present in their workplace during working hours.

Notice that in this case, 22 percent of workers doing something — telecommuting — is considered “rare,” while less than 20 percent perceiving a hostile environment is considered “disturbingly high.”


Remote Work on the Decline

27 Jul 2017 /

According to LinkedIn:

IBM, Aetna, Reddit, and Bank of America are among a growing list of companies slashing remote work policies. It’s not because employees working from home are less productive; rather, many companies think in-person collaboration just can’t be beat.

I get that. It’s easier to work with people in the same room than with people at some distant point in time and space.

But I can’t help noticing that there are more companies willing to hire hordes of itinerant trainees in a foreign land to write important software (i.e., “outsourcing”), than to let employees write software 15 minutes from the office in their own home.


How to Tell If You’re Too Busy

17 Sep 2016 /

A colleague shared this on Slack:

Busy Guy

It’s a slide from a presentation given by somebody somewhere . . . it’s hard to read but the gist of it is:

In the past, I’ve worked every holiday, on my birthday, my spouse’s birthday, and even on the day my son was born.

I asked the guy who shared it, “How do the birthdays fit in there? I don’t even remember when my spouse’s birthday is, but I certainly didn’t work on the day my son was born.”

“I think he meant on the nights of the birthdays,” was the reply.

“Was he working on the night his son was conceived? I bet he was. He seems like a very busy guy.”


Who Does Amazon Fresh?

17 Jul 2016 /

Our office uses Amazon Fresh to get food delivered, so when a colleague posts “Who does Amazon Fresh again?” on the messaging system, what he means is “Remind me who is responsible for placing the Amazon Fresh orders.”

Here is the actual answer: “I think it’s a company started by Amazon the online retailer.”


Is Tech Addiction Making Us Far More Stressed at Work?

27 Jun 2016 /

I like this juxtaposition of links on themuse.com. “Is Tech Addiction Making Us Far More Stressed at Work?” sandwiched in-between links to 25 Chrome extensions and 10 apps that you must have in your life right now>

Is tech addiction making us more stressed?


Apple Employee Found Dead at Company Headquarters

30 Apr 2016 /

Apple employee found dead at company headquartersCNN Money

I have never known anyone who died at work, although I’ve seen a couple of close calls.

My dad died of a heart attack at home on a Monday morning when he normally would have gone to work. If he’d been able to hang in there a few more hours, he could have died at the office.

I also worked with a fellow quite a few years ago who was in the office on Friday and died over the weekend. We heard about it on Monday. It wasn’t super shocking because he was an older man and not in the peak of health. He looked like John Huston with one day to live.

That was a terrible company. I remember thinking, “Well, at least he doesn’t have to come to work today.”

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Dad vs. Stupidity

14 Apr 2016 /

I overheard one of my colleagues saying to another, “My dad is really opposed to any kind of stupidity.”

I passed that along to my own son: “If you want to describe me in that way — ‘My dad is opposed to stupidity in all forms’ — it’s okay with me. I mean, you don’t have to if you’re not feeling it but I can think of worse ways to be remembered.”


Overheard (Slack Version)

1 Apr 2016 /

Employee X [8:55 AM]
I bumped the HVAC up one degree for the entire office. Got a few comments about it being too cold yesterday. Let me know how today is y’all.

Employee Y [9:18 AM]
half a degree too warm

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Overheard

28 Mar 2016 /

Overheard


You Look Like an OAF

25 Mar 2016 /
Dark glasses

A colleague shows up in the office today with dark glasses and a toothpick in his mouth.

“It’s my OAF look,” he explains.

“Is that an acronym or are you spelling the word ‘oaf'”?


Programmer or Parolee?

15 Mar 2016 /

Our office building is next door to a probation field office . . .

I have a game I play in the parking lot each morning: Programmer or Parolee. I spot someone, guess if he’s here for a programming challenge or a meeting with his parole officer, then wait to see if he shows up in our office.

If a methed-out skinhead comes in for a programming challenge, I lose today’s game.


Chuck and Chip

11 Mar 2016 /

I’d like to work with a guy named Chuck because I like the word “upchuck,” as in “What’s up Chuck?” That’s something I would say a lot.

It’s also a dream of mine to work with someone named Chip so every day when one of us went home I could say “Goodbye Mr. Chip.”

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More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Second-Guessers

8 Feb 2016 /
Super Bowl 50

I spent my lunch hour listening to co-workers second guess the Panthers offensive play-calling in yesterday’s Super Bowl. I don’t like second-guessers, for a couple of reasons.

  1. Once a game is over, it’s easy to say the team that lost should have done something different. Feel free to advance any theory you want since there’s no way to wind back the clock and falsify it. It’s like taking a test when you already know the answers. It gives you an opportunity to make yourself sound smarter than the people who had to take the test without knowing the answers.
  2. What are the odds that someone with his fat ass parked on a sofa watching the game really came up with a better play-calling strategy than the coaching staff of a team with 17 wins and 1 loss?

Free Advice on Free Advice

5 Feb 2016 /
Shoulder pain

Today a colleague offered to fix the pain in my shoulder. “Sounds like a problem with the connective tissue,” he said. “I can push it back into place.”

“No,” I said. “No no no no no no no.”

“Why not? Are you homophobic?”

“Not wanting you to touch my shoulder is not homophobic.” Also this guy is not gay.

“You don’t trust me?”

“I was trying to think of a nice way to say that.”

“I have a gift for this. I’ve helped a lot of people.”

“You might be able to fix it. Probably you could. On the other hand, you might, just perhaps, push on it the wrong way and I lose the use of my left arm. Not worth the risk.”

He then recommended that I go to a health food store and buy some red something-or-other algae to use as an anti-inflammatory.

Which I’m not going to do . . . If someone recommends a movie I should see, I might check that out. Even if it turns out to be terrible, which it usually does, I’ve only lost a few bucks and a couple hours of time. Same with a restaurant. Or a book.

But on medical matters, when someone says “You should go to a health food store and buy some of this product and eat it,” I’m not going to do that because if I do that, and I die . . . because the recommender didn’t know anything about my health condition, medical history, medications I might be taking, didn’t know anything about chemistry, biology, pharmacology . . . I’m dead and the person who told me to do that is scratching his head going, “Hmmmm, that never happened before. Maybe I should have gone to medical school to actually learn something.”


Spartans Are Overrated

1 Feb 2016 /
Spartan Race logo

Some of my work colleagues participated in a Spartan Race this past weekend, which seems like a good way to acquire a bacterial infection but to each his own.

Slightly off-topic but Spartans didn’t fight very well and instead of fleeing, they let themselves all be killed by Persians . . . so I’ve always wondered why Spartans have become synonymous with positive qualities like commitment and toughness and resilience, instead of being remembered as milksops with cool headgear . . .


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

14 Dec 2015 /

My desk at the office. Note the festive poinsettia!

Looks like Christmas


Accoutrements at the New Office

9 Dec 2015 /
3-star ball

The new office comes with a chef, who seems to see himself like one of those celebrity chefs with the quirky personalities.

Not to put a damper on the fun but I like my chefs to be unobstrusive. I just want a bite to eat. I don’t want to manage a new interaction with an eccentric reality show wannabe.

Just dish up the grub, man.

 

We also have a ping-pong table now, which triggers a lengthy discussion of the intricacies of table tennis equipment, conducted for some reason in the midst of a group of people trying to get some work done.

Three-star balls? I got your three-star balls right here . . .

Thus spoke The Programmer.


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

6 Dec 2015 /

Americans are the fattest, dumbest people on earth . . . and because being fat and dumb are remediable given the proper motivation, it’s fair to say that Americans are also the most unmotivated people on earth.

This is not to say that all Americans are fat, dumb and unmotivated. There’s a subset of Americans who get up every morning, brush their teeth, go to work, excel at what they do, come home, set the alarm and get up and do it again tomorrow. And take care of their families. These people are carrying the rest of the country on their backs.

But for the average American, the best explanation for his or her life being the way it is is likely to be “I’m fat, dumb and unmotivated.” That’s a pretty tough admission to spit out though so most of us look around for something more palatable to sell to ourselves and others, like (if you’re a non-white person) “white privilege.”

 

There’s no way to have a polite conversation around phrases like “white privilege” because no one likes being categorized into a group and then insulted as an undifferentiated mass. If you’re tempted to use “white privilege” in a conversation as something other than a provocation or an alibi, help out your listeners by saying what it means to you and provide some recent examples from your own life.

I have to admit that the concept of white privilege doesn’t resonate with me given the benefits that have accrued to me personally as a white person (none that I know of) and the frequency with which I personally observe behavior that strikes me as racially motivated (never).

 

Barack Obama was elected in 2012 with 51 percent of the popular vote66 million people willing to hire a black man to the most powerful job in the country. And that’s an artificially low number because not everyone of voting age actually votes. In 2012, more than 100 million eligible voters did not vote.

Projecting 51 percent Obama support over the entire voting-age population gives us a number well over 100 million. (If you don’t like the 51 percent assumption, note that Obama would really only need the support of 34 percent of the 100 million non-voters to reach 100 million total supporters, and I don’t think a case can be made that his support among non-voters was below 34 percent.)

All the white privilege in the world doesn’t erase the fact that if you’re a black American, there are at least 100 million people willing to give you a chance to prove yourself. And you don’t need 100 million people, you probably only need one.


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